M. FERRAUD INTRODUCES HIMSELF.
“Yessir, Mr. Donovan,” said Captain Flanagan, his peg-leg crossed and one hand abstractedly polishing the brass ferrule; “Yessir, the question is, what did y’ hear?”
Mr. Donovan caressed his beer-glass and reflected. The two were seated in the office of Swan’s Hotel. “Well, I took them bricks out an’ it seems that loony ol’ Frenchman our grandpas use to blow about had hid a box in th’ chimbley.”
“A box in the chimbley. An’ what was in the box?”
Mr. Donovan considered again. “I’ll tell you the truth, Cap’n. It wus a lot of rigermarole about a treasure. I wanted t’ laugh. Your commodore’s a hoodoo on pirates an’ treasures, an’ he ain’t found either yet.”
“No jokin’; keep a clear course.”
“No harm. Th’ admiral’s all right, and don’t you forget it. As I wus sayin’, they finds this ’ere box. The dockeyments wus in French, but th’ daughter read ’em off sumpin wonderful. You’ve heard of Napoleon?”
“Yes; I recollects the name,” replied the captain, with quiet ridicule.
“Well, this business pertained t’ him. Seems some o’ his friends got money t’gether t’ rescue him from some island or other.”
“That wus it. They left the cash in a box in Corsiker, ’nother island; I-talyan, I take it. But I’ll bet a dollar you never find anythin’ there.”
“That is as may be.” The captain liberated a full sigh and dug a hand into a trousers pocket. He looked cautiously about. The two of them were without witnesses. The landlord was always willing to serve beer to those in quest of it; but immediately on providing it, he resumed his interrupted perusal of the sporting column. At this moment his soul was flying around the track at Bennington. When the captain pulled out his hand it seemed full of bright autumn leaves. Donovan’s glass was suspended midway between the table and his lips. Slowly the glass retraced the half-circle and resumed its perpendicular position upon the oak.
“Beauties; huh?” said the captain.
“Yessir; every one of ’em as good as gold; payable to bearer on demand, says your Uncle Sam.”
“An’ why are you makin’ me envious this way?” said Donovan crossly.
“Donovan, you and me’s been friends off an’ on these ten years, ever since th’ commodore bought th’ Laura. Well, says he t’ me ’Capt’n, we forgot that Mr. Donovan was in th’ room at th’ time o’ th’ discovery. Will you be so kind as to impress him with the fact that this expedition is on the Q.T.? Not that I think he will say anythin’, but you might add these few bits o’ paper to his promise not t’ speak.’ Says I, ‘I’ll trust Mr. Donovan.’ An’ I do. You never broke no promise yet.”
“It pays in the long run,” replied Mr. Donovan, vainly endeavoring to count the bills.